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Medishift on Wikipedia: Read It

To use an awful cliche, when I first started reading blogs I was a kid in a candy store. I wanted to read everything and thought all information was valuable. I didn’t have the palette to differentiate between blogs that offer value to me personally and those that, well, don’t. I’ve read about lots of people that read hundreds of blogs on a daily basis. At one point, I might have tried to keep up with thirty (never daily). But the more I’ve gotten into writing blog posts the less blogs I read. I’m down to maybe ten, at most, that I read regularly, with the occasional fit of exploration. For me, reading lots of blogs results in diminishing returns.

One of the blogs I’ve always found valuable is PBS Mediashift by Mark Glaser (I’ll do a post on the others I read religiously at some point). Why? I actually learn something new when I read Mediashift because Mark is an actual journalist/blogger who writes about things I care about. Mark’s series this week on Wikipedia is a great example of why Mediashift is a great blog. Below are direct links to Mark’s Wikipedia articles this week:

If you have an interest in the Wikipedia phenomenon, read these articles. Great articles. Great discussion. I left a comment on one Mark’s posts. Following are the key points I made for those that care.


(1) Regardless of what you think about Wikipedia, it matters. It is the 17th most read site on the Internet and is the number one result for lots of obsure terms/ideas.

(2) If you feel an entry is inaccurate and you are an expert on a topic, edit it. There is a good chance that the Wikipedia entry will appear higher in search results than your take on the subject on your website. You will achieve more participating in the Wikipedia community than you will putting your head in the sand and ignoring it. Don’t spin. Don’t try to introduce marketing language. But correct mistakes and make sure entries you care about are factual.

(3) When blogging, don’t link to Wikipedia entries you think are questionable. Consider a link to a Wikipedia as an endorsement of the entry presented there. I’ve linked to a lot of Wikipedia entries from this blog as a shortcut to fully explaining terms in my posts. For technology terms, Wikipedia is solid. But the quality of Wikipedia entries varies from subject to subject. You don’t link to bad blog posts, so don’t link to bad Wikipedia entries either. Take your responsibility as a blogger seriously.

I am a believer in Wikipedia. It is flawed. But I consider it a great example of what the Internet is capable of and I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bath water due to some bad entries. Also realize it is not a tool for academics (no encyclopedia should be) – it is a resource for folks looking for general understanding of subjects they otherwise wouldn’t be able to learn about.